The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Movie Poster Image
Beware! 70s horror film is ultra violent.
  • R
  • 1977
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The film seems to make the point that beneath every person is the potential to be a monstrous savage.


As gruesome as it gets (although some gore-fanciers have complained that the blood looks pretty fake). People and a pet dog are mercilessly slaughtered, a severed head is kept as a keepsake, and one character's Achille's tendon is graphically severed. Another is bitten by a rattlesnake. Rape, and strong suggestions of incest.


The mother of the cannibal family is plainly stated to be a long-ago-abducted prostitute.


Some cursing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The families drink alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is an extremely violent movie with repellent murders and killings that cross the border from self-defense into sadistic revenge. Customary guardian figures (husbands, mothers, fathers) are the first to be slaughtered. Not even director Wes Craven's later, teen-filled "Nightmare on Elm Street" or "Scream" movies strike a nerve like this.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byShane T. November 25, 2017
Parent Written byPlague December 7, 2009

The Hills Have Eyes

Great movie. IMO, better than the remake. These are one of those originals that are pretty hard to beat.
Teen, 16 years old Written byaka.puck August 8, 2020

Not for younger kids but it's fine for older ones

The only instances of sexual behavior was very censored, but there is a fair amount of gore and an instance of a dead animal.
Teen, 17 years old Written byTerminal June 22, 2020

What's the story?

In the desert wastelands, the quarrelsome Carter family, dominated by a retired police officer, are driving their RV to California when an axle breaks. They're stranded in the territory of Jupiter (James Whitmore), a hulking, scarred hermit who was abandoned in the desert as a boy and grew up to be a vicious wild-man, scavenging off the weapons and technology left at a disused military base nearby. He also kills and eats any travelers he can. Jupiter leads a degenerate tribe of his own, since he kidnapped a prostitute long ago for a mate. His brutish sons are also named for planets, but one girl, Ruby (Janus Blythe), is semi-civilized and yearns to escape from her nightmare environment. Jupiter and the brothers attack, rape, and massacre most of the Carters, but Ruby takes pity on the few survivors -- who include an infant that the bestial cannibals want as a morsel. Ruby helps the remaining Carters hide, regroup, and plan their revenge.

Is it any good?

This is a sometimes ghastly -- and occasionally absurd -- shocker that really gets under one's skin. Though many critics initially despised THE HILLS HAVE EYES, it has since been called one of the best horror movies of the 1970s. Scary-movie specialist Wes made this viscerally-violent feature on a low budget, and some horror connoisseurs call it his best. Ultimately the "normal" people strike back with a ferocious bloodlust they didn't know they had, and the question is how much a "civilized" person can be pushed before one becomes a savage. Are the Carters really all that much "better" than Jupiter and his spawn?

There are some borderline-silly moments involving the two Carter hero dogs, a pair of fearlessly loyal German shepherds named Beauty and Beast, who are the first to try to rescue their masters from the marauders, like the Rin-Tin-Tin adventure from hell. But even there the unintentional humor evaporates when one of the canines is killed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the satirical commentary on families -- who is more dysfunctional here, the squabbling city clan from Cleveland, or the cave-dwellers who prey on them? They can also discuss how much a "civilized" person can be pushed before all aspects of noble behavior drops away and one becomes a savage. They may want to talk about the continued popularity of horror movies -- why are they so appealing to certain audiences, especially teens?

Movie details

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